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Windows 7: Subwoofer doesn't seem to work

30 Nov 2011   #1
Mattressi

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
Subwoofer doesn't seem to work

Hi everyone,

I've just picked up my new computer and I'm trying to get it to work properly. Everything's working, except that I can't seem to get anything coming out of the subwoofer.

I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit with SP1 and all the updates. I've got an Asrock Z68 Pro3 Gen3 motherboard and I'm using a TDK Tremor Xa-31. From what I can tell, it's a cheap and nasty speaker system. It's 5.1 surround sound, but I'd like to run it in 2.1. Also, I've got the latest (2.66) HD drivers from Realtek.

All of the speakers work fine, whether in 5.1 or 2.1; but the subwoofer just doesn't seem to work. I think at one point when I was testing it (clicking on the subwoofer icon in the audio manager screen) I could hear the slightest, short bass noise coming out, but I actually think it was coming from my speakers. It doesn't make that noise any more though - though I don't know whether that's due to my constant fiddling with the settings or because it's just not working properly.

I've made sure that I've got the bass knob turned fully up (and every time I test it I test it with the dial turned all the way back, just in case the sub is backwards or something ). I've tried setting it to stereo in both the Windows 7 audio setup and in the Realtek setup. I've also tried setting it up as 5.1, then unticking everything but the subwoofer.

I've searched a lot for this, but I can only find threads from a few years ago. I'm assuming that the Realtek drivers have taken a turn for the worse since then - the solution in almost every thread that I read involved making use of various options that don't seem to be available any more (such as checking "bass management" or changing the environment to "room" - I honestly cannot find either of these options).

So, I thought I'd post on here in the hopes that there's a more recent solution for this issue. I haven't tested the speakers on a 32 bit XP system yet to see if it's just Windows 7 64 bit being a pain. I'll try to in a few days if I can. However, it's a new sound system, so I can't imagine that the subwoofer is dead already.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much,
Matt

Edit: I've posted a screenshot of my current configuration. I've only connected the front speakers and the subwoofer, but I've put it on 5.1 configuration. It still doesn't work




Attached Thumbnails
Subwoofer doesn't seem to work-audiosetup.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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30 Nov 2011   #2
rubyrubyroo

MS Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit (Family Pack Lic.) Upgrade
 
 

Hello Mattressi, and welcome to Seven Forums!

If the system is still within the time period that you could simply exchange it for a new one, that might be a good idea to do before time runs out as you troubleshoot the problem! And then if it works, your done and if it exhibits the same behavior, then it is almost definitely your computer system.

Unfortunately, it is true that anything like this can be sold in a broken state, I once purchased a powered 2.1 speaker system that was unable to power up whatsoever. So it certainly could be the case.

Mike
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Nov 2011   #3
Mattressi

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Yeah, it's definitely still within the 10 day return period - I just thought I'd have a go at troubleshooting it first (it's a long drive back to the store, haha).

I've suddenly started getting a very small amount of bass coming from the subwoofer (at maximum volume, that is). I can hear it very slightly when playing music - it's a faint, quick beat every now and then.

I think you might be right about it being broken - at first when it didn't work, I thought that it would just be a setup issue. Now that it's working, but very poorly, I'm thinking that it might just be faulty.

If anyone thinks there's something else I should try before returning it, let me know. If not, I'll take it in to the store sometime this week and get it replaced. I'll try to remember to let you know the outcome.

Thanks
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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30 Nov 2011   #4
rubyrubyroo

MS Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit (Family Pack Lic.) Upgrade
 
 

i have no idea how it is set up (powered externally/internally, connected by special proprietary wires to other speakers or simple phone 1/8" (3.5mm) jack for each speaker and one from sub to rear of computer?) If it is the simple phono jack plugged into your computer, you could swap it out with a "extra" speaker you might have from an older system that is no good, to see what if any level of sound is being produced by the output of the computer (helping rule in/out the speaker itself). although it's probably line level, you could at least hear something at high volume settings on the computer normally. long shot!

But it sounds to me like it's the speaker, considering the behavior of subs that die.

Mike
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #5
Mattressi

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I took the system in today and got the sub replaced (though I kept the original speakers and cables). The old sub didn't work well at the store either, but the people at the store tested the sub I currently have and it worked fine, so I took it home. I've noticed that one of the cables I have (I have cables for FR/FL, RR/RL and sub/center) doesn't work well either, so I'm not using RR/RL, though I didn't intend to anyway.

I've still got some questions. My new sub definitely works, but it's a bit quiet - it gets drowned out very easily by other noises (it's no louder than my fridge). I've turned the other speakers down to -10dB and turned the sub up to +10dB with the Realtek audio manager, but that didn't help much. I tried plugging the sub straight into the powerpoint instead of into a power board and that didn't help. It was loud at the store, so I'm assuming it's a driver/settings issue. Would anyone happen to know how to make my subwoofer louder?

Also, my other speakers all make a reasonably quiet static noise when idle. It's already starting to get on my nerves. I don't remember them doing this with the old subwoofer, but maybe I just didn't notice. I've checked that they're plugged in as far as they will go and that they're plugged in correctly. Does anyone know how I could minimize/stop the static coming from them?

Thanks very much,
Matt

Edit: I tried muting all sounds, but the speakers both still make static noise. Does this mean it's a cable issue?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #6
rubyrubyroo

MS Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit (Family Pack Lic.) Upgrade
 
 

Hello again!

Well I'm glad you made the exchange, it sounds to me, just from first glance, that if the speakers are working right now, but are basically CJ, or "cheap junk"! Did you buy them separately or did they come with a store bought computer? I'm not familiar with the brand beyond hearing the name before. Do you know if the speakers are powered separately (L, R, and Sub) like by use or A/C or is there a central point to they converge before plugging into your computer? That hiss is just likely the background whitenoise that higher priced speakers keep to a much lower percentage of their total output ability. It is likely due to several factors, not excluding the quality of the wires, such a connection points, poor amplifier design or cheap components. Age is obviously a factor but is not relevant here.
Often the speakers sound great at the store, then at home they sounds markedly worse (as the store's stray noise and acoustics help drown out the hiss or other imperfections, and volume judgment can be altered by the more nosier store environment you've been acclimated to.) then when your at home in the nice quite atmosphere, you'll hear, or rather notice, a totally different quality to the sounds produced. And it does tend to be more noticeable (the hissing esp.) as time goes on.

Thats probably the only advise I could give without jumping into your sound card and driver and everything, but if they are just about as noticeable when muted, this sounds like this issue. And the quality control of the speakers which first came with a broken sub, also points toward the CJ-syndrome.

If you bought them separately and paid much for them, I'd personally write a letter to the company, as I have in the past, and assuming properly worded (and a bit of luck, that some jerk doesn't just throw the letter away) any reputable company will offer you a replacement or similar. (with mine they let me keep the poor quality ones and sent me a voucher for any speakers made by the company, so I ended up with 2 pairs (one high end, and on CJ)

You could aways try a source other than your computer for the sound, to unequivocally rule out anything in the computer.

Hope this helps a little!
Mike
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #7
Mattressi

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Haha, I think "CJ" might be the issue then. I bought the system separate from the computer. It was certainly very cheap ($30), so if cheap systems are known for their static, then I have to assume that's the reason for the static in mine.

At what price point (or maybe, what brands) are sound systems good enough that they won't have noticeable static coming from the speakers? Should I be looking at buying some of the cheaper Logitechs that I've seen (usually $60-90) or would they still be too cheap?

Also, as I said, my speakers make an audible static noise even when the system isn't plugged into the computer. However, I noticed that my front right speaker (it's a little above the computer tower, if that makes a difference) seems to have a little stronger static when plugged in to the computer - in fact, it seems to pulse a little and I swear that it sounds like it's pulsing in time with the pulsing of my computer tower (I'm assuming it's a fan pulsing in the tower?). Is this normal? Fixable? Simply an issue with cheap speakers?

Thanks again for all your help
Matt
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #8
rubyrubyroo

MS Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit (Family Pack Lic.) Upgrade
 
 

The "static" will probably stop when yo unplug from the source (computer) , so this may lead one to believe that the computer is making the noise, but the speakers will not be making a complete circuit when you unplug, so that is why it may confuse someone (not sure if you noticed that)

it's a hissing/static noise (white noise), but if it were a humming sound It could be interference from an outside source, speaker placement should be altered in this case, but you said "static" - (these are the type of details that make over-the-internet diagnosis difficult for certain situations!)

Speakers should be documented (online or on the box) with their quality characteristics for comparison. Properties such as Sound-to-Noise Ratio, Total Harmonic Distortion, etc. should be used as indicators, although companies do their own testing, so exaggeration I inevitable, unlike the regulated food & drug industry! Yes price TENDS to dictate quality, but I've seen $1000 speaker that I wouldn't use to listen to the radio with, and some $50 range speakers that you could uses in a rather sophisticated home studio. But naming brands are mostly just reasons to argue on forums like this because I like JBL, Sony, Harman-Kardon, Altec Lansing, etc, but any one could easily be argued to be poor as well by the next guy, for different reasons. Hopefully the store will have setup to list to and compare - just remember what I said - don't expect it to sound the same at home, just be able to compare the brands/models relative to one another!

Well the left speaker thing I just read might be related to my first paragraph (interference) I hadn't read your whole post at the time. It's position could possibly help with that, theres a lot of magnets in a computer, between the neodymium pair in the Hard Drive and the many weaker, but more superficially placed (and moving) fans and the PSU may be producing electromagnetic radiation even though it is shielded, the ones that come with a computer are not often the best of quality (BTW PSU=power supply unit in the computer) Just try moving the speaker.

Mike
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Subwoofer doesn't seem to work




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